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The Importance of an Employee Handbook

Posted by Ryan M. Newburn | Mar 05, 2021 | 0 Comments

What Does a Company Employee Handbook Entail?

Employee handbooks should cover just about any issue that an employee may run into during their job. Below are some of the most common provisions in an employee handbook, but by no means is this list exhaustive. An experienced lawyer can help you determine what else needs to go into your company's employee handbook.

Employee Benefits

Benefits are one of the first topics an employee asked questions about when joining an organization. Your handbook should have a comprehensive outline of the benefits employees are entitled to and any requirements for utilizing those benefits. Not only does this give the employee the peace of mind of knowing what perks come with their job, but it may also help minimize liability in the event of a dispute. Benefits provisions may cover:

  • Vacation days
  • Holidays
  • Sick leave
  • Health, dental, and vision insurance, and spending accounts
  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Retirement benefits, such as 401ks or matching policies
  • Tuition benefits
  • Transportation perks
  • Child care expense reimbursement
  • Wellness programs
  • Other perks your workplace offers (such as free meals or discounted gym memberships)

Anti-Discrimination Policies

This is an extremely important provision to include in your company handbook. In addition to mandatory anti-discrimination training, you should be sure your employees have a copy of your anti-discrimination policies. Discrimination and harassment can tear a business apart. Not only does a hostile work environment make working extremely unpleasant for the targeted employees, but it also exposes your business to significant potential liability. Your employees must understand that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in your workplace, and be sure to enforce this policy dutifully.

Workers' Compensation Policy

The workers' compensation policy is also critical for employees to know. When an employee is hurt on the job, they must be able to refer to the employee handbook to know how to proceed. Workers' compensation is required for businesses in most states, including Colorado.

Leave Policies

Your employees' ability to take a leave of absence is important, not only so your business can retain good employees, but also because some forms of leave are required by law. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employees to provide at least twelve weeks of leave to employees who qualify for certain family or medical conditions.

Other Terms of Employment

The employee handbook should also cover the workplace expectations of the employee. Because every workplace is different, the handbook should outline any additional workplace standards. Here is where you may inform employees of:

  • Dress codes
  • Expected work hours
  • Disciplinary policies
  • Personal technology/social media use
  • Workplace Safety

Non-Compete or Non-Disclosure Agreements

Some businesses require their employees to sign agreements upon joining the company. Non-compete agreements and non-disclosure agreements are intended to protect the company's proprietary information.

This list of provisions is by no means exhaustive. As your company evolves, your employee handbook should be updated regularly to reflect not only the applicable laws and regulations, but also the culture and values of your company. At Newburn Law, we work with our clients to customize their employee handbooks to their businesses' specific needs.

Why Your Company Needs an Employee Handbook

At the end of the day, your company is on the hook for the actions of your employees while they are at work. An employee handbook, uniformly applied, is one way to show your employees what is expected of them and ensure they are performing their jobs in a way that does not put your company at risk. For instance, a failure to set clear anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies can indicate that your company is indifferent to or unprepared to handle this behavior in the workplace. Not only will it be ineffective at preventing discrimination and harassment, but a handbook that is silent on these issues could expose your company to liability if you are later sued by the victim.

Not only is an employee handbook the best way to communicate company policies to your employees, but it also serves as a lasting record that you informed your employees what was expected of them. Typically, an employee handbook will ask employees to sign an acknowledgment stating that they read and understood the policies. This is an important document that you will want to keep copies of in the event that a dispute or lawsuit arises later.

Reach Out to Our Experienced Business Lawyers

At Newburn Law, we know how important human resources are to your business. If you are a new business in need of a company employee handbook, or if you are an existing business that needs to revamp its handbook, you should consider reaching out to our lawyers to discuss the specific needs of your business. We want to help you make sure your handbook addresses all relevant employee policies and protects both you and your employees. Contact us to set up a consultation with one of our corporate lawyers.

About the Author

Ryan M. Newburn

Ryan Newburn is a business and legal expert trusted by Executive Teams and Boards of Directors to apply sound business principals to solve legal and financial problems. Ryan's practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, financings, corporate formations and corporate governance in a broad range of industries including energy, distribution services, healthcare, medical devices, and technology. Leveraging his formal business training and years of practical experience, including as an executive at public and private companies, Ryan has advised hundreds of companies in dozens of industries of unique legal and financial issues.

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